Listen

I was sitting in the hospital waiting room surrounded by dozens of people all waiting and listening for their name to be called. Some were reading, some scrolling through things on their phone, some flicking through old magazines, some just sitting and waiting and listening. Look at their faces… wrinkled frowns, worried looks, mouths down-turned, eyes focused on the desk where the nurse or doctor will appear and call their name. Heads tilted to hear the voice, anxious not to miss it.

It occurred to me that I don’t listen enough. In the morning the radio goes on and stays on all day. In the car music or words accompany me on my journeys. I get bored so I phone someone for a blether. My prayer book tells me silence should be left here and I pay it little heed. I count to ten. Will that be enough for the introverts? It’s Lent so I’ll make it twenty.

And I remembered a poem prayer I once read. But what was it called and who wrote it? And I found it in my Quotes Journal and I read it and switched off the radio and listened. Today I remembered that peace can be mine if I just listen. I might hear my name called. You are my beloved child.

The Word

Down near the bottom
of the crossed-out list
of things you have to do today,

between ‘green thread’
and ‘broccoli’ you find
that you have pencilled ‘sunlight’.

Resting on the page, the word
is as beautiful, it touches you
as if you had a friend

and sunlight were a present
he had sent you from some place distant
as this morning – to cheer you up,

and to remind you that,
among your duties, pleasure
is a thing,

that also needs accomplishing
Do you remember?
that time and light are kinds
of love, and love
is no less practical
than a coffee grinder

or safe spare tyre?
Tomorrow you may be utterly
without a clue

but today you get a telegram,
from the heart in exile
proclaiming that the kingdom

still exists,
the king and queen alive,
still speaking to their children,

to any one among them
who can find the time,
to sit out in the sun and listen.

Tony Hoagland

Image result for hope george frederic watts

George Frederic Watts – Hope (1886) Tate National Gallery

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